UPDATED: Hungary’s Fidesz to leave EPP grouping in European Parliament

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party said on Wednesday it was leaving the largest centre-right political group in the European Parliament after the faction moved towards suspending it in a tug-of-war over Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s democratic record.

Fidesz’s departure from the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the parliament is likely to reduce Orban’s clout in Brussels following a long conflict over his perceived backsliding on the rule of law and human rights.

“I hereby inform you that Fidesz MEPs resign their membership in the EPP Group,” Orban wrote in a letter to the faction’s head, Manfred Weber, which was published on Twitter by Katalin Novak, a Fidesz deputy chairwoman.

The EU has criticised Orban for putting courts, media, academics and non-governmental organisations under tighter government control. Orban denies the criticism and has refused to change tack.

“I welcome the long overdue departure of Fidesz and Viktor Orban from mainstream European politics,” said Dacian Ciolos, head of a liberal group in the European Parliament. “There is no space for the toxic populism of Fidesz in mainstream European politics.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the EPP group voted overwhelmingly to allow for suspension and to make ejection of member parties easier. A separate motion to freeze out Fidesz was expected to follow soon.

Calling the changes “a hostile move against Fidesz”, Orban reacted before the EPP faction denied its 12 Fidesz members the right to speak on behalf of the group or represent it in other work of the chamber.

In his letter, Orban wrote that limiting the ability of Fidesz members of the European Parliament to carry out their duties “deprives Hungarian voters of their democratic rights.”

The conservative EPP faction includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU, Poland’s opposition Civic Platform, Belgian Christian democrats, France’s Les Republicains and others.

Without the 12 Fidesz members, it will have 175 EU lawmakers and remain the largest in the 705-strong chamber.

Main Photo: A file photo of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives a press conference at the end of the European People’s Party (EPP) Political Assembly at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 20 March 2019. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

You may want to read...

%d bloggers like this: